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Jew in Jail by Gary  Goldstein
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Feb 17, 2013

it was amazing


Jew In Jail: Gary Goldstein

Not everyone faces the world in the same way. Not everyone feels they have to abide by the rules, work for a living without taking what does not belong to them. Some justify their actions because they need to fill a void, need to overcome a problem or just because they in this case owe money to someone. Drugs, alcohol, pills, medication and poor self-esteem are a deadly combination when mixed together. Minds can be dulled, reflexes impaired and thoughts blinded by the lack of understanding caused by all of the above. When one young man named Gary Goldstein sets his sites on robbing three dry cleaners for the sake of ripping them off in order to pay his bookie the money owed him, little did he think, know or understand that his life would change forever.

Gary decided to take his chances and follow his instincts when executing these robberies. In 1998 Gary Goldstein strung out on drugs, alcohol and pills a deadly combination with a toy gun tucked away and used for effect only to scare his victims not only confessed to the cops under suspicious conditions, thought he might be set free if he told them the truth, but wound up in jail without any contact with the outside world for quite some time. A lawyer that was definitely not on his side and a sidebar meeting that would tilt the hands of justice and balance the scale but not in his direction, Gary hoped that the judge would be kind, give him a lighter sentence if he gave the police what they wanted before he lawyered up as they say. But, although he hoped to be seen as someone off balance, crazy and in need of some sympathy and help the judge, the police and the court deemed him a menace of danger to society and hence her was sent to the tombs and then Rikers. The descriptions of the jail, the cells, the odors, stench and those he encounters are so graphic and so vividly described you can create not only a mental image of what he is going through, the incarceration period, the people he deals with and the attitude he adopts in order to survive.

Jew in Jail is based on the author’s real life experiences, the many years he spends in prison, his feelings about those incarcerated with him, the S.A.I.D. program he enrolls in to get help and the treatment he receives. Hoping to find out more about his case, others like it he enlists the help of the prison libraries, law librarian and hoping to research and bring to light the harsh treatment received by the sentencing judge, the fact that people like him are not harden criminals but have an addiction and illness that needs to be addressed and these people need therapy, help and rehab in order to function when they are released. But, unfortunately the time served is usually the resolution and the prisoner is now on his/her own to find his or her own way back.

The S.A.I.D. Drug Program at first consisted of Gary observing everything and learning more about it. I love the way instead of using names of prisoners or courtroom he refers to it as a ballplayer would as the bullpen. Interesting term, which denotes that he tried to take things not lightly but in stride, hoped to lighten his mind and learn to deal with his situation. Researching his rights, his case and learning that his lawyer had waived his rights testify in front of the grand jury without his knowledge makes you wonder just whose side the lawyer was on, what he hoped to gain from getting Gary’s sentence increased and wanting as we learn a Huntley hearing to have his confessions suppressed. Lack of contact after pleading not guilty with the lawyer, bail set at 10 thousand dollars and no knowledge of what happened next would make your blood boil and definitely let Gary know he was in for a downward spiral. Hearing the other inmates talk about their courtroom time Gary begins to develop a distain and definite disgust for the others and even more angry with himself for getting arrested in the first place.

Changing Sprungs or type of confinement, meeting different counselors, learning about cases related to his and learning how inept his lawyer is should have alerted him to not only fire him but to the fact that he might have his own hidden agenda. Sad but true Gary would learn unfortunately hard way that not everything was what it seemed and even those that appear to want to help you are not always on your side.

Author Gary Goldstein takes readers deep inside the prison system in many different prison facilities, the indignities he faced, the betrayals and deceits of those that were supposed to support and help him and guide him through the processes needed to create an appeal, to protect his rights as an individual and to defend him in court. With a lawyer that did little or nothing to make sure that he received a fair sentence and deal, a judge that was so narrow minded and hardnosed she could barely see past her own nose and a court system that failed him miserably Gary Goldstein was sentenced to seven years flat. Hoping to be able to get an appeal, reduce his time would take months, years and hard work but not before he endured many more obstacles. With his father’s death and his mother’s illness while incarcerated and unable to assist his family during these times, Gary had to find ways to cope without leading himself back down the wrong path.

The author continues with his stay at Oneida and the many inmates, officers and people who came to his aid, those that tried to bring him down and the several who made sure that he had a chance to find his way out. The conversations that he shares, the processes he relates, the jobs he was required to do really enlighten readers as to what someone in prison endures and would help tough teens learn many hard lessons if given this book to read as a great resource for what can happen when you make one mistake.

There were times when he paid the price for what others did and accused him of. There were times he had to defend himself against all odds. There were much in prison that did not like him others who would do anything to bring him down but through it all some how he survived. The law library seemed to be his salvation and going to general business where he learned a lot. Being a Jew in Jail at times was a serious disadvantage when prejudice reigned in his face. Receiving tickets for infractions, hoping to get them reversed, trying to defend himself and just hoping to stay off the open radar Gary Goldstein at times fought a downhill battle while trying to find a way to climb back up. Yet, there were some like Mr. Lee that never betrayed his trust while others tried hard to bring him down. Mr. DeCristo believed in him and his policy of treating others as they treat him was often put to the test. Learning the computer in General Business should prove an asset made to feel worthless the folly of some of the officers. While writing a grievance to try and get out of the facility and be transferred to one closer to home would prove to ire some even more. His salvation his journal that he is sharing with readers but when it is found in his cell what they do is wrong. Pages 402-410 will bring a smile to your face. Read it to find out why.

When getting transferred to another dorm and then his complaints were investigated and he explained about his journal. As Gary feels that the hands of justice have turned against him and what happens next will more than enlighten readers as to what happens when you have to fight for your life and you have a Tier III disciplinary hearing which is serious if found guilty. Not everyone is what he or she seems and not every outcome is what he expected. At times he was considered arrogant and others one of the group but no matter how hard he tried he was still what others disliked Jewish. Smart, using his brain and always trying to fight for himself he spent every waking hour when he could on his case, trying to counteract what Lieutenant Santos had planned for him and deal with the many threatening situations he faced.

But, the worst had yet to come, as you will learn when you read Chapters 29 and 30. Next he is moved to another facility. Lawyers that did not move fast enough transfer requests, the past and his crime brought to light and the author enlightens reader as to how his case proceeded in Chapter 36 as well as more difficulties, more tickets and more confrontations. But, Gary has what we call Chutzpah and will never give up as he Fights Fire with Fire. From joining many groups, to trying to just find his way out Gary spent time in the Box as he describes, being chastised, embarrassed and at times ridiculed but never once could any one deflate his true spirit or deflate him. Letters to politicians, officials and more and then finally a chance to speak his mind. Imagine getting in trouble for having too many sugar packets. You have to read this to believe what he and so many others had to endure and should not have. So, if he was rich and had a better lawyer would he have gotten a lesser sentence or released sooner? Sad that money and power often go hand in hand and those that cannot afford more wind up more than just left behind.



With the help of an appellate attorney named Warshawsky and faith in himself and God Gary just might do the impossible, get the appeal, be released and hopefully join his family. Chapter 48 sets it all up and tells the finally outcome. Hopes soared then diminished and read chapter 52 to learn the rest. An ending that is quite compelling and a book that is straightforward, well documented, well written and would make Irving Goldstein smile in heaven and proud of his son. From this Jewish reviewer to this amazing Jewish Man: Chutzpah you have, determination and persistence you will never lack and the respect of so many you have gained.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer
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